Living in Australia, we are blessed that the government provides resources such as Mental Health Care Plans for us to make mental health care affordable and more accessible. For those who genuinely need one, this is a gift enabling them to receive between six and ten sessions per year with a psychologist rebated by Medicare between 50% to 100% depending on the plan and the practice billing policies, saving the recipient no less than $80 per session.
Depending on the GP you visit, the state of your immediate mental health and the short appointment times granted, you may be issued a MHCP without a diagnosis. What many doctors are unable to explain to you in this time is that with or without a diagnosis, the MHCP can potentially effect you in other avenues of your life such as health or life insurance and superannuation.
This is not to say they aren't the right answer, however there are some key points to consider about your mental health before asking your GP to receive one in order to make your mental health journey more affordable.
Have you previously been diagnosed with mental health disorders?
Is there a family history of mental health difficulties?
Is this situational, or have you been challenged by your mental health for sometime?
If you have previously felt like this, what worked to improve your feelings during that episode?
If after weighing up your answers to these questions you come to the conclusion that a MHCP may not be necessary at this stage, there are some other options to consider -
A wonderful initiative being embraced by many Australian businesses is the ability for employees to seek counselling through Employee Assistance Programs. These are third-party services contracted by employers that provide counselling services at times that suit you. Like with any other counselling or psychology services, the counsellors in these programs are bound by confidentiality policies. It is common for employers to provide three to ten sessions per year at no charge to their employees. Some companies can negotiate for more if necessary.
There are many health services available within our local communities, online or by telephone. Ranging from specific support services such as Beyond Blue, to groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or organisations such as Relationships Australia or The Salvation Army, there are a range of services, sessions, workshops and more that may be a viable option for you.
Counsellors are qualified in many of the same approaches as psychologists and we are ethically bound by the same codes of conduct, in addition to being registered members of bodies such as Australian Counselling Association. Many of us charge in the range of the gap fee payable on a mental health plan, without the session restrictions that apply.
It may still be that after thinking through your options a mental health plan is the right step for you. If this is so, please ensure that you book a long or double appoi
ntment with your GP. This will ensure you are not under a time pressure when discussing your concerns with the doctor. Go armed with a list of questions to ensure you cover everything you need to know.
If you would like further information on weighing up your mental health support options, please feel free to contact me.
The Health & Wellbeing Haven